2018: The year of smart glasses
Whether it’s tracking steps or listening to music, the next big thing in wearables is smart glasses
Five years after the world was introduced to Google Glass, innovators are facing a defining moment. Where do they go next with wearables? You already have fitness trackers, smartwatches and smart shoes. Wearable devices can be strapped on to almost every part of the body.
The focus now is on the eyes.
Forget big screens and minimal bezels on smartphones or the debate over 3.5mm headphone jacks. The buzz in technology this year is glasses that will help you do more than just see better.
Most of these smart glasses run on similar technologies, such as motion-detection sensors: They can detect movement, gestures, and power up when a user puts them on. Take them off, and the power turns off.
All of them have built-in microphones (to answer phone calls) and use a touch-based interface that is embedded in the frame. They also have a corresponding app that can work as a remote control on your Android or iOS device.
There has been a debate on the difference between smart glasses and AR glasses. Simply put, however, augmented reality (AR) in smart glasses is a feature, and not a product in itself. Not every smart glass will come with AR capabilities, unlike the Vuzix Blade. Smart glasses, like the LET glasses and Vue, will let you track your activity and perform other actions, but most of that information is relayed on a smartphone app.
On the other hand, AR-enabled smart glasses—or headsets—allow you to view information from your computer or smartphone screen on your glasses wherever you go. Display engines and see-through optics play a key role in this.
Eyes on you
The Chinese police have been using smart glasses with facial-recognition technology to nab criminals. Developed by the China-based firm LLVision, the GLXSS Pro smart glasses look strikingly similar to the Google Glass and match photographs taken of people in crowds with the information on a police database, according to recent news reports. These were put to use at the Zhengzhou railway station last month. The reports added that 26 cases of identity fraud had been detected with the help of these glasses.
Text to sound
A Japanese company is developing a pair of assisted-reading smart glasses that will help dyslexic and visually impaired people. The OTON GLASS basically changes words to sound. The glasses use a Raspberry Pi computer, two cameras and an earpiece (embedded in the frame) to execute this function.
Vuzix blade: Alexa and ar
The Alexa-compatible Vuzix Blade has a full-colour display and see-through optics to view notifications on the lenses. Notifications can be controlled with gesture-based movements on the touchpad on the frame. You can click photographs, record videos and share them on social media directly with a built-in HD camera.
USP: Augmented reality, built-in camera
Let glass: Music without headphones
LET Glass uses bone conduction technology, allowing users to listen to music, make phone calls, interact with a virtual assistant and control smart home features while remaining tuned to their surroundings. The photochromic lenses can be customized to eyeglass prescriptions. The patented technology transmits sound waves to the inner ear, leaving the eardrums free. It is integrated with Amazon’s Alexa and has a standby time of up to 10 days.
USP: Compatibility with different virtual assistants
Level: Fitbit on your face
Level smart glasses have sensors similar to those used in fitness trackers. Developed by the US-based vision care company VSP Global, Level uses activity-tracking technology to track your steps, calories burnt, and total activity time, among other things. The activity-tracking sensors are embedded in the left temple of the frame. Users can track their daily activity with an accompanying smartphone app.
USP: Activity-tracking technology